Pictures cannot be more eloquent. Malnutrition nests in great part of the infant population around the world and, while doing so, plants the roots of sickness and death. More than 55 million children suffer from malnutrition, a fact that decreases their life expectancy. That's why, during this World Food Day there is few to celebrate but there is indeed a lot to do in order to achieve the first Millennium Development Goals: the reduction to a half of hunger and poverty by 2015.
The economical and financial crisis still hits the world. Its main precedent was in the disaster reported in the food prices between 2006 and 2008. As a consequence, more than a thousand million people in the world -one out of six- are hungry on a daily base.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 80 to 90 per cent of the cereals prices in 27 countries in Africa remain 25 per cent higher than they were before the beginning of the crisis. A similar situation is presented in Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean, where the food prices are still too high.
Besides that, the agricultural yield is hampered by an increase in the prices of fertilizers, seeds and animal feed. This rising made it more difficult for investments in this field, since those inputs are far from the reach of millions of small land owners.
As a paradox, during the last year the production of food in the world increased notoriously and, despite that, the number of hungry people also augmented. Such contradiction tells about the inequity existing in a lot of countries, where only people with great income can acquire what they need for their nourishment.
In Latin America, this situation is still more evident. According to FAO, the number of persons deprived of an adequate nutrition got up to 53 million during 2009, whereas the agriculture yields show an extraordinary growth. Dominican Republic and Haiti are the nations with the greater number of starving people in the continent.
As reports from the international organization show, Guatemala presents the more alarming case at present, since the government has declared a food emergency due to the worst drought in the last 30 years. Some regions in the country lost 90 per cent of the crops and around 2,5 million people are harmed by it.
However, not only financial resources are needed in order to achieve full access to food. The government policies also constitute a main factor to guarantee a meal on the table of every home.
According to FAO’s director general Jacques Diouf, it is required not to reduce the support for agriculture. “Only a healthy agricultural sector, combined with a growing non-farm economy and effective safety nets and social protection programmes will be sufficient to face the global recession as well as eradicate food insecurity and poverty”, he points out.
Before such a distressing prospect, World Food Day must serve to concert all efforts worldwide in order to diminish the number of famished people in the planet. Only doing so, the dream of respecting every one’s right to food could come true.